Zwelithini lambasted the government for giving “too many rights” to children, something which led to parents losing control of their children and the subsequent early pregnancies.
“You will never see this in white, Muslim and Indian schools. Only black people’s schools have pregnant children. When a parent disciplines a child, the child calls the police. In our time, we were beaten up if we were in the wrong. The devil has its sights trained at young people,” the king said.
He said young girls got pregnant because they were enticed by the child support grant provided by government. A single parent qualifies for R380 a month per child.
The king was speaking at a recent community centre opening function in Richards Bay.
In March this year, a parliamentary response to questions by the opposition DA revealed that in 2015, KZN and Mpumalanga provinces accounted for 5178 school pregnancies that year.
About two months ago, KZN MEC for education Mthandeni Dlungwana allocated R56million of his R47-billion budget for pupil pregnancies and keeping girls in school programmes.
Prince Thulani Zulu, spokesperson for the Zulu monarch, yesterday said the king’s solution to teenage and pupil pregnancy was abstinence, hence the existence of Umkhosi Womhlanga (the Reed Dance).
“Isilo is not fighting with government. His concern is that the government seems to own children more than their parents. What’s needed is for government to consult with traditional leaders before putting in place laws that affect children,” Zulu said.
Vee Gani, chairperson of the KZN Parents’ Association, said school pregnancies could not be blamed on the Constitution.
Gani said it was both the parents’ and community’s duty to instill responsible behaviour in children.
“This is not a constitutional issue. It needs all of us as parents and communities to work together because we have failed these children by not taking stock of what they were doing behind their closed bedroom doors, after school and who they hang out with.
“Corporal punishment is not the answer because it had its own generation. You can’t inspire children by using fear,” Gani said.
He said that how school children were punished was a “very controversial” issue.
“First, we have to look at the Constitution of the country. The education department cannot disallow a child from attending school because of pregnancy, as education is their constitutional right. Most schools run teenage pregnancy programmes where they are taught the dos and don’ts, but the problem is still there.
“It’s a worry to all of us (teenage pregnancy) because it is not an acceptable social norm and the numbers are unacceptably high,” Gani said. He did not agree with the condom distribution programme to schools because some children took this as a licence to engage in sexual activities.
Sihle Mlotshwa, provincial education spokesperson, said life orientation in classes touched on behaviour in all aspects of life. He said the “My Life My Future” campaign was one of the tools used to educate pupils about various social ills, including teenage pregnancy.
“We are aware that there are parents who abdicate from their parental responsibilities and we do appeal to them to work with us and their communities towards instilling discipline in children,” Mlotshwa said.